Live Through Us at The Burrow


November 2012

Stress free animals

I had no intentions of writing this, but then I read an article on stress and livestock.  I was going through some old pictures of when we first got started, and we could NOT believe the difference in our animals from when we first got them to now.  We give all our cows names.  The guineas don’t have names, and the chicks don’t have names, but probably will someday.  Beef cattle are given generic names that are reused for emotional reasons.  All other animals are named out of respect, telling them apart, and it is required for registration.  I had a customer ask us why we named our animals.  He found it as odd to name them as we did not to.  The article also mentioned that animals named and talked to and treated as more than lawn ornaments produce better.  I believe it.

Here is Fargo now.

 For those not in the know, he’s a GOOD looking bull!  He would win prizes for sure, but I refuse to put a ring in, and regulations require one on bulls.  I understand why and don’t dispute that, but I can’t do it to Fargo.  That’s Booger to the front/left, and Betsy is the black one behind him.

Here is Fargo when we first got him.

 The big one is Betsy, and the little one is Booger.  We figured he must have been younger than we thought.  We checked his papers, he was over a year old when we got him.  He looks like a tiny little thing, like a calf.  Arlis refused to believe is was him.  Then I showed him more.

Here’s Betsy when we first got her.

 Skin and bone.  Here she is just a year or less later.

 Not the best picture, but you can see that our cows are NOT skin and bone now.

When we looked through, we wondered what on earth do we do differently?  We don’t grain feed or supplement or anything.  But Arlis works with them every day, and I used to.  They are respected and loved, that’s all.

I’ve also noticed the chickens were fatter, laid more, and healthier looking when I was at home.  I spent the time with the birds the way Arlis does with the cows.  There must be something to it.  Less stress also makes better meat because of less adrenaline.  One we raised from birth was FAR better in taste and texture than one we bought as a calf.  Just another reason to buy from the right places. 

In Memory

   I’ve been wanting to do this for a while.  We’ve lost a lot of lives here at the Burrow Farm.  That’s normal.  We’ve learned to accept death more, and live life more.  Our son is probably a lot healthier emotionally about the cycle of life as well.  Many deaths were expected.  Slaughtering is a part of life, a part I truly believe needs to be revisited by most.  When you take the life of an animal, an innocent, beautiful animal, you learn what it’s like to kill, what it’s like to take a life.  And when you literally butcher an animal after killing it, it makes you ask “When does life actually end?”.  You refuse to waste a single piece of meat.  You choose to give that sacrificed life the fullest meaning possible.  Holding a gun is taken more seriously when you’ve used one.  The true potential of knives and violence are realized and respected.  But enough of that.  

Below I choose to post the most memorable of those lives lost that weren’t planned.  

In their honor:

George-found one morning in the floor dead.  We believe old age and therefore a heart attack.  He was the most awesome rooster ever.


Baby-a bottle heifer that wouldn’t get pregnant.  Eighteen months old and with 4 bulls that really liked her, she still wasn’t pregnant.  We planned on her being a milk cow, and possibly nurse maid.  Slaughtered and sold for food.

holstein calf

Red-Refused to eat.  Died.  Arlis really wanted a Hereford.  Buried in what is now pretty much our calf graveyard.

hereford calf

Bluefoot-attacked the back of my leg one too many times.  Cute little pet rooster, beautiful.  Eaten.


 Delta-the most awesome hen ever. Ravaged by a raccoon we killed in an earlier post.  Her chicks are doing well.


Goldie-Eggbound killed her.  (no picture)
Red-Found dead one morning with no explanation.

baby ducks
  Merlin-This is especially sad for me.  I got food poisoned and almost died.  She has her own special story.  We found her dead outside my bedroom window.  It’s where I hadn’t seen her in 3 weeks and she was sleeping outside my window.  Most awesome duck ever!

merlin the duck


I already had a blog saved and ready for today.  But life took a different turn.  After getting to bed at 1AM the night before (I was waiting for the midnight release of BOIII so I could get a T-shirt for Arlis) I drove the next day to a town an hour away to get Marcus the dog he’s been wanting.  A five year old lab mix that’s already neutered.  He didn’t smell bad, and wasn’t covered in fleas and ticks.  We wanted a lab because the neighbor’s labs are perfectly fine with our chickens.  We were told he LOVED to be hugged and snuggled and the previous owner was thrilled he was going to a farm with a little boy.  She was in a fix and didn’t want to give him up.  So I’m writing this blog today to let her know how it’s going.

Ace was friendly enough, but he didn’t want to get in the van.  We thought he wanted to stay home, but I now believe it was for other reasons.  While driving down a country road, thank God it was country road, I had to make an emergency stop to let the dog out to poop.  Arlis was holding him in his lap when I looked over and saw it coming.  “Poop!  Poop!”  I grabbed his tail and held it down, applying pressure to said area.  He got as much pleasure out of it as I did.  He then dropped a good deal outside, and I cleaned up the small amount inside.  He still didn’t want in the van.  About 2 miles from home, “Poop!  Poop!”  We let him out where Arlis figured he was fed grass because only cows poop that much.  There wasn’t a mess this time, thankfully.

We got home and walked him about, introducing him to the cows and other animals.  Boy-seen below-informed Ace how he felt with claws on his face.  I scolded Boy, and they just pretty much avoid each other now.  He pooped again.

 He seemed alright with the chickens, and I was real tempted to just let him loose.  Glad I didn’t.  I got him up from his “nap” today before I went into work and leashed him out with the birds.  He was fine until they moved.  Then…he was REAL interested.  Sigh.  So I guess he’ll be like Mya.  He’s allowed free reign outside in the mornings and evenings or if the birds are ever up, but if he needs out while they’re out, he’ll have to be chained.  Sorry, I know that’s not what you wanted, but he doesn’t seem to mind much. 

 Other than that, he gets along real well with everybody.  The cats are too scared to go near him, but they’ll get used to him, and Mya likes him.  That’s saying alot because she’s usually real jealous of other dogs.  So, dear Ms previous owner, thank you so much for Marcus’s new pet.  Marcus used him as a pillow last night, and Ace really liked it.

And I wonder why I have insomnia

When I worked at home, insomnia wasn’t even an issue.  And the blue moon that it did happen, it didn’t matter because I can do my work whenever pretty much.  But now, insomnia is an every night occurrence.  But at least this time, I have a reason.
One of our chicks disappeared.  No feathers, no body, nothing, just gone.  (The white one under Delta.)
It happened before they were all put up at night we believe.  For it to happen during the day, it had to be a fox or a hawk.  We can’t shoot hawks, and foxes are very hard to catch.  It did surprise me because my birds were always real good about hawks.  They always hid under the cars, porches, etc.
Well, not long later, we found Delta.  I went to put everybody up, and Delta was in a nesting box mutilated and eaten.  I was real upset.  But as you can see above, the chicks are big enough now to be OK.  Shame though.  She was the only broody hen we ever had, and she was a GOOD mother.  One of the orange chicks was also missing.  We assumed eaten like the white one.
Not that it bothered our guard kitties any.
We cleaned up the mess and noticed Niles and Daphne, the ducks, were hurt, but not bad at all.  Just missing some feathers.  We put them all up in the coop, cleaned up the mess, expressed our emotions, and went in.  We also noticed poo in one of the nesting boxes.  This narrowed it down to either a fox or a raccoon.  Due to the daytime visits, we believed it to be a fox, and dreaded having to keep our poor birds locked up until further notice.
Later that night, we heard a noise outside.  The coop is right outside our living room window.  Now, our coop is a metal building that closes up pretty good, with a concrete floor.  Granted, rats can get in, but they can get in anywhere.  We thought everyone was safe from the big boys and rarely paid attention to the nightly coop noises because chickens can get frisky at night sometimes.  But this time, we were on guard, so we went out.  It’s a good thing we did.
We grabbed guns and lights and threw on coats.  Arlis shown a light in the coop.  Hens were in the floor-that was a bad sign.  On the top of the run door was a raccoon, perched up trying to escape or hide like a cornered cat.  Now, raccoons don’t come out in the day.  If they do, something’s wrong.    Since this was the first nightly visit, that means this coon was probably rabid, and much more dangerous than normal.
“There it is!  Over the door!  Coon!  Coon!  Shoot!  Shoot!”
Arlis shot with rat shot and then turned and ran.  It’s pitch dark out and a bunch of birds are terrified.  They’re hitting Arlis in the back of his legs.  He thinks it’s that coon.  He screaming words to make a sailor blush (I wrote some down to look up later), and since he had the light, and there was a potentially rabid and wounded coon on my trail, I followed.  Of course since my loving husband practically ran me over getting out, there wasn’t much to think about.  I passed him up, tripped on chicken wire, and turned (apprehensively) screaming, “Are you OK?  Are you OK?  Did it get you?”  I honestly don’t remember what he said, just that we met in the house and calmed down. 
At this point, we weren’t thinking too much ahead, just on instinct.  The instinct was kill the coon, not much else.  Therefore, in our momentary lapse of intelligent thought, we let the dog out to get the coon.  She didn’t bother a bird, miraculously, but she didn’t get the coon either.  Arlis is waving a gun around, one of the flashlights died, and the other one needed charging.  I’m carrying a pistol scared to death I’m going to shoot someone or thing because this is absolute chaos my friends.  Feathers and animals everywhere.  Screaming and running.  Hilarious now, not so funny then.  Arlis aims at the dog, thinking it’s the coon (he’s blind remember?) and pulls the trigger.  Thanks be to God, it didn’t fire.  Mya is safe and sound.  I think it’s got a hold of one of the ducks so I start screaming, “Shoot the duck!  Just kill the coon!”  No other animals were harmed, please relax.  We went back to the coop very carefully and found the blasted thing dead in the coop.  Dead all this time.  Not following us, not harming birds, no need for Mya or fear or chaos.  Arlis shot it with the shotgun just to be safe, and I opened the back door and pushed it out with the hoe relieved it was over and feeling mighty stupid for overreacting.
In my defense, Arlis coon hunted growing up.  That’s different.  You’re hunting them with dogs and others in a tree with a shotgun.  Not with rat shot in a small enclosed building where chickens and ducks attack you trying to get out.
Only one hen and two chicks were left in the coop by this point.
We put Mya up and spent the next hour rounding up animals.  Daphne was hurt pretty badly, and Niles was bleeding now. They were both so terrified that they let us carry them.  I was afraid I was going to have to kill her myself.  Her skin was missing on one side of her neck from head to wing.  I was afraid of her pain, infection, and rats or other pests bothering or eating her and then wanting the other birds.  (To my relief, she has made a recovery.  Most of her feathers have grown back, and she now just has a small scabby section on her neck.  She is almost back to normal.)  Just Henrietta and that one chick were missing now.  We had to give up and go in.

The next morning, we put Mya on a leash to go out, just to be safe.  Glad we did because we found Henrietta.  She had made it through the night perfectly fine.  Two days later we found the missing chick.  Tough little booger.  It was still alive and strong, just scared apparently.  Arlis closed up the one hole we think was used, and we haven’t had a problem since.  We’ve lost three hens and a chick in the past few weeks, but we have three chicks that will hopefully make good replacements. 

As far as my insomnia goes, it’s gone away.  I’m sleeping a whole lot better now again.  Please, feel free to laugh at our expense and remember, the birds are happy and free again, no locking them up.

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